Saturday, 23 September 2017

23rd September 2017

Weather: SE 3-4, 7/8 cloud, good vis

A late afternoon visit to keep up our continuous coverage produced a few left over grounded migrants from this morning with 3 Wheatear and single Chiffchaff and Goldcrest in the gardens.

Two Great Crested Grebe drifted just off the North End slipway and 3 Rock Pipits chased each other around, well, the rocks!

With south-easterlies forecast for the next few days we hope to continue the high level of coverage of the islands that we've obtained this year.

Friday, 22 September 2017

22nd September 2017

Weather: SE force 2, wind and cloud increasing from the west

Highlight of a pre-tide visit was a fly-past of Goosanders down the east side, across between the islands and away to the west. Goosanders are still a scarce species at Hilbre.

Migrants grounded this morning were 9 Goldcrests, 3 Chiffchaffs and 3 Wheatears, with passing through a trickle of Meadow Pipits, 3 Swallows and an early (for Hilbre passage) Skylark.

Two Kestrels flew over the island together and a Peregrine sat south of the main island early in the day. The 2 Brent were at the north end, where a single Sandwich Tern was feeding, most have now moved off south.

Ringed: 4 Goldcrests, 2 Chiffchaffs [493-32]

Thursday, 21 September 2017

21st September 2017

Weather: SE force 3/4, drizzle then rain, later clearing WNW 3
Passing flocks this morning of 30 Canada and 60 Pinkfeet geese came overhead, while 3 Chiffchaffs, a Goldcrest, a male Blackcap and 2 Wheatears were the small arrivals today.
 A sea watch over the tide found 10 Red-throated Divers, 10 Guillemots and 8 Great Crested Grebes, and waders in good numbers included 6,500 Oystercatchers, 500 Dunlin, 2 Sanderling, 65 Curlew 150 Redshanks, and 20 Ringed Plovers.
 Only 5 Sandwich Terns could be found, the 2 Brent are still about, also 2 Rock Pipits and a Kestrel.

photos AEH

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

20th September 2017

Weather: SSE force 2
Observers arrived just before dawn to see an asio owl (presumably a Short-eared) appear over the grass in front of bungalows and float off south down the east gutter, unfortunately it could not be relocated. It soon became apparent that migrants were scarce and  no Goldcrests or warblers were present with only a very small passage of Meadow Pipits, about 10 Robins and a single Wheatear saving the day. Two Peregrines and the 2 Brent from yesterday were seen, a Wigeon flew west passed the north end, a Rock Pipit was present and a Grey Wagtail went over, otherwise most sightings were fairly routine.
Ringed: 1 Robin                     [ 487-32 ]

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

19th September 2017

Weather: S force 1, cloud and mist clearing then sunny and warm

A very pleasant day started with a dozen or so Goldcrests on the ground and a Chiffchaff in sub-song in the obs garden.
At least 4 Wheatears were about the island and a small passage of both Meadow Pipits and Swallows continued through the morning, also 2 Grey Wagtails, 2 Sand Martins and 5 Goldfinches. A harbinger of late autumn/winter came in the form of 9 Wigeon, 3 Rock Pipits and 2 pale-bellied Brent.
The Bonxie reappeared today, scattering the waders in the area, then resting on the sea for a while before flying out of view.  The best of the sea watching were the 10 Bottle-nosed Dolphins circling while feeding and occasionally jumping out the sea off to the north (thanks to Richard Smith at Red Rocks for the tip off)
Other seabirds logged were a Gannet, 2 Red-throated Divers and 30 Guillemot.  A few butterflies flew in the sunshine, also a  Migrant Hawker dragonfly.

Ringed: 4 Goldcrests, 1 Chiffchaff [486-32]. Photos AS and SRW

Monday, 18 September 2017

18th September 2017

Weather: no wind first thing, backing W, 8/8 cloud rain arriving midday

A small movement of 25 Meadow Pipits was noted this morning in hardly any wind and there were at least two Rock Pipits still.

Three Wheatears graced the main island during the early tide.

Three Teal were noted (a single and a pair) but it was the flat calm conditions on the sea that resulted in the best sightings of the day with 188 Great Crested Grebe counted, c4,000 Common Scoter estimated and 63 Guillemot and 3 Razorbill logged.

The highlight of the day were two surfacing Harbour Porpoise off the west side.

There was little in the way of grounded mirgants but half a dozen Robin were noted with one caught and ringed.

After the tide observers retreated to the mainland with the onset of an advancing front and rain set in for the afternoon.

Ringing: Robin [481-32]

Sunday, 17 September 2017

17th September 2017

Weather: ESE 2, backing NNE 2 later, showers

Migrants were a little thin on the ground this morning although two each of Chiffchaff and Goldcrest were noted.  Rock Pipits numbered five, which is an excellent count for this species at Hilbre at the start of the main passage period.

The waders and gulls were spooked a couple of times during the morning and the culprit have itself away in spectacular fashion when a Bonxie (Great Skua) powered over the South End, over the pond and back past the Obs over observers heads.

Five Red-throated Divers were seen today including a loose flock of four (two of which photographed above) but otherwise the sea was quiet.

The single Pale-bellied Brent was on the 'whaleback' again, but there was no sign of yesterday's undoubted passage Purple Sandpiper.

Ringing: Chiffchaff, Goldcrest [480-32]

Photos by AEH, PSW and SRW

Saturday, 16 September 2017

16th September 2017

Brief highlights today included the first Purple Sandpiper of the autumn on the 'whaleback' (photographed by visiting birder Simon Caldwell).

Also a single Pale-bellied Brent Goose was present and migrants included Goldcrest, Willow Warbler and 2 Wheatear. 

Friday, 15 September 2017

15th September 2017

Weather: NNW force 3  vis 60 mls

After all the excitement of yesterday it was expected to be quieter today on the lighter winds, and so it proved, despite the rainbow there was no 'pot of gold' in birding terms.

A short sea watch failed to find any Leach's petrels but one of the three Peregrines south of Middle certainly did, as it was seen to be carrying one as prey, a sight not unknown in the area but rarely if ever photographed.

The best sea bird of the day in the form of Bonxie glided along the north shore scattering the gulls and waders resting there, came towards Hilbre and off passed the north end. Other seabirds were scarce although 2 Fulmars appeared distantly with a dozen Gannets and 2,000 or so Common Scoters which were far out as usual.

A few Goldcrests were again in the paddocks and 2 were ringed today. Goldcrests have been noted before arriving on north or north westerlies when other small migrants seldom appear. A Wheatear landed on 'Wheatear Hill' opposite the obs at about midday. Other birds counted today included 7 Little Egrets, 98 Shelduck, 84 Curlew, 70 Grey Plover, 42 Redshank. There was no sign of the first Brent seen yesterday. Some of the Sandwich Terns may have taken advantage of the northerlies and headed off south, only about 90 were seen this morning.

Summer hung on with a Red Admiral and a Small White butterfly in the air.

Ringed: 2 Goldcrests, 1 Robin [478-32 ]

Thursday, 14 September 2017

14th September 2017

Weather: NNW 4/5, gusting later, variable vis

Today was a classic Hilbre autumn seawatch, with the wind turning more northerly overnight producing the goods.

Observers were present from just after the tide in the morning (c830am) until dusk.

A few Leach's Petrels passed through as the early morning tide ebbed, but they picked up more and more during the low tide period peaking as the tide began to flood again early afternoon with occasional birds passing with feet of the rocks at the North End.

The evening tide was slightly less productive with only 20 birds noted but a day total of 90 Leach's was the best count since 2013.

The first highlight of the day was a juvenile Sabine's Gull picked up out to the west of the seawatching hide at 930am, it gave great views but soon disappeared up the Dee (photo below from the Obs archive  A second juvenile was noted on the evening tide.

There were large numbers of Sandwich Terns noted passing the North End throughout the day as well as two large roosts on the Wast Hoyle, a total of 600 were estimated, along with 210 Common Terns and nine Black Terns in what has been an excellent year for this latter species at Hilbre.

The second highlight of the day was so close the observers in the hide had to wait for it to reappear above the lifeboat slipway beam before the shout went out "Long-tailed Skua" - a fine juvenile flew west right in front of the hide at c1.10pm before turning up the Dee along the whaleback and then turning back towards Wales.

The first returning Pale-bellied Brent Goose rested on the whaleback before moving down to the east side gutter later.  Similarly 18 Pink-footed Geese flew North East.

Other species seen during the seawatch included a single Golden Plover, 4 Tufted Duck, 9 Manx Shearwaters, Razorbills, 5 Fulmars and a single Red-throated Diver.

Despite the weather three Goldcrests arrived as did a Wheatear and the first Rock Pipit of the autumn.

Photos AEH and SRW

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

13th September 2017

Weather: WNW  force 7

A gale overnight meant that sea watch coverage was again required this morning. Leach's Petels were again passing but perhaps not in as many numbers as was expected, nevertheless 17 were logged, together with 5 Manx Sheatwaters, 3 Black Terns and a Fulmar.
More surprising and rare in a Hilbre context was a Ruff that arrived in to the north end, landed briefly and then continued west, also the Hobby that flew east by the island (photo below by Matt Thomas).

 Sandwich Terns were present again in large numbers, today at 440 with 50 Common Terns.   
A single Whimbrel is still about with 25 or so Curlew.
photos AEH

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

12th September 2017

Weather: WNW 4/5   vis 30 mls

The strong winds of the last day or so have encouraged birders to take to the coast of Wirral in search of sea birds. A short visit to Hilbre this morning produced 31 Leach's Petrel and a Fulmar, all before 08.15. An afternoon visit over the tide found the flow of  Leach's petrels had slowed to a total of 18, but the highlight of the sea watch was a group of 5 Black Terns passing close to the north end and a Black-Throated Diver flying to the west of the observers.

Others on the sea were 3 Arctic Skuas, 3 Manx Shearwaters, 4 Gannets, 50 Great Crested Grebes, and 2 Kittiwakes. There are still many terns in the area, 175 Sandwich and 25 Common, also Common Scoter seem in good numbers with 600 estimated passing to and fro in the direction of the wind farms. On the way to the island a Great Crested Grebe was found exausted on the rocks by Middle and was taken into custody by obs members and kept warm and dry until the tide was high enough to release it at the north end.
photos PSW

Monday, 11 September 2017

11th September 2017

Weather: NW 6-7, poor vis

An early morning visit paid dividends for one observer with a single Leach's Petrel being the highlight of an ebb tide seawatch.

Three Manx Shearwaters were also noted as was a single Fulmar.  There were small numbers of terns including 70 Sandwich and 25 Common counted but the best was a Black Tern found by Little Eye battling it's way against the wind.

A visiting birder (@ColDav10) came on for the tide and had a superb seawatch which included a possible Wilon's Petrel, if accepted this will be not only the first record for Hilbre but for Cheshire and Wirral too, check out his blog here:

Sunday, 10 September 2017

10th September 2017

Weather: SW force 2/3, backing SE 4 later
A small trickle of migrants this morning included 6 Goldcrests, 5 Pied and a Grey Wagtail, a few Swallows and a male Blackcap. Two Wigeon were unexpected and 2 Kestrels were on the island, also a Sparrowhawk flew over to the west. A Gannet was seen as were 2 Bar-tailed Godwits.
During the morning observers thought they heard a Greenshank and then found the bird in question with other waders including Redshank below the Obs so fired off a couple of record shots before all the birds took flight when they observed a square white rump, sadly it was never seen again.  Reviewing their photos later in the day they realised the bird in question also had yellow/orangey legs and they concluded that it was in fact a Greater Yellowlegs which, if accepted by BBRC, would not only be a first for Hilbre but a first for Cheshire & Wirral. When news came out later several observers returned to the island after the tide to search for it but it could not be found; consolation for one visitor was the first Leach's Petrel of the year.
Ringed: 1 Goldcrest, 1 Blackcap                   [ 475-32 ]

Monday, 4 September 2017

4th September 2017

Weather: SE force 2, mist at first, clearing as the wind turned west later.

Observers were full of expectations this morning with a south easterly and mist around the coast. The reality was less exciting with 3 Goldcrests, 2 Willow Warblers and a Chiffchaff on the ground. A Song Thrush hung around the obs garden area this morning and became the first to be ringed this autumn.

A Merlin was flushed from the old obs garden and flew off towards the mainland, while at c1250hrs yet another Marsh Harrier passed through Hilbre, making the tally three for the autumn and four for the year, this time arriving at  Middle from the north west and departing to the south down the Dee via the east of Little Eye.

A Wheatear arrived at the north end briefly and a quiet sea produced only 2 Gannets and 6 Great Crested Grebes. No large numbers of waders or terns were around at the high tide apart from the 3,000 or so Oystercatchers. A count of 98 Shelduck was the most so far this autumn.

Ringed: 2 Goldcrests, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Song Thrush.    [ 473-32 ]
photos SRW

Sunday, 3 September 2017

3rd September 2017

Weather : SE 4/5 rain showers, feeling cool.

After a beautiful day yesterday an unpleasant feel out and about this morning. A Willow Warbler and a Goldcrest braved the conditions and made landfall on the island overnight, and later in the morning a Spotted Flycatcher was sheltering in the 'heli' trap. This is the third this autumn so far and a much appreciated visitor.

A Grey Wagtail called as it passed, while the pair of 'local' Pied Wagtails were again seen. A visit to the north end found an Arctic Skua flying east over the sea, and a  Guillemot close by observers.

Several Swallows and a Sand Martin were swooping low immediately over the slipway to find insects and a young Common Tern was on the rocks being fed by an attentive parent.

There were more Sandwich Terns about than yesterday, also a single Little Tern, early in the morning 12 Gannets were noted. There are still more than the usual number of Black-headed Gulls about the island, they seem to be finding plenty to feed on over the last week or so.
Ringed: 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Spotted Flycatcher    [ 468-32 ]   
photos CJ, SRW and TGW